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Keywords:

  • fractionated plasma products;
  • public health;
  • transfusion;
  • vCJD

Background  The risk to public health of onward transmission of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) via blood transfusion and plasma product administration is of on-going concern, particularly with the recent reported detection of abnormal prion protein in a person with haemophilia.

Objectives  To describe the history of fractionated plasma product exposure in clinical cases of vCJD in the UK.

Methods  Through examination of records held at the National CJD Surveillance Unit (from relatives, general practices and hospitals).

Results  Nine out of 168 UK vCJD cases had a history of receipt of fractionated plasma products on 12 different occasions (1 pre-vCJD risk in 1970, the remaining between 1989–1998). According to the UK CJD Incident Panel risk assessment criteria, 11 were low-risk products and one was low or medium risk.

Conclusion  It is unlikely that any of the UK vCJD clinical cases to date were infected through exposure to fractionated plasma products. However, the possibility that such transmission may result in vCJD cases in the future cannot be excluded.